The dream of philanthropists Robert and Nancy Maytag became reality in 1962, and today, the Phoenix Zoo has welcomed more than 43 million guests onto its 125 acre oasis in the Papago Park neighborhood. It’s easy to spend an entire day here, strolling the 2.5 miles of walking trails or taking the tram, meeting and greeting more than 1,400 animals residing in state-of-the-art, humane habitats designed to mimic life in the wild. Some 30 species are endangered or threatened, including creatures being brought back to sustainable numbers like the Arabian Oryx, Black-footed ferrets, Chiricahua leopard frogs, narrow-headed garter snake, thick-billed parrots and Mexican wolves. Many critters enjoy the sunshine hours, but to best see the nocturnal natives, visitors will want to sign up for Twilight or Night Camp flashlight tours.
The giraffe smells a food pellet. He pokes his head just over the railing and starts sniffing for the guest holding his treat. Not far off, some brightly plumed parrots land on another visitor’s arm, spying the tasty apple slices in her hand. Though you can’t get this close to every animal at Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium—such as the lions and the wild Larry Fitzgeralds—the keepers do facilitate animal-human exchanges as often as possible with the zoo’s more than 600 species. They also give visitors novel views of some exhibits by welcoming them aboard the Skyride, the Australian boat ride, and the African train safari. The adjacent aquarium adds to the zoo’s impressive animal collection, housing more than 75 exhibits and enough water to start a new earth colony.
Further attractions include a children’s petting zoo, daily shows, and a baby-animal nursery. At the 15-acre Safari Park, guests stroll or ride the tram through animal habitats, where they can spy on species that live on the other side of the equator. Wildlife World also features two restaurants where guests can feed themselves and their own helpless progeny.
My Petting Zoo LLC offers children and adults alike the chance to interact with a variety of gentle animals. Miniature goats, a mini horse, and a pony named Riley cavort among rabbits, chickens, ducks, and potbellied pigs. Customers are welcome to visit the animals at a farm, or request a mobile visit that brings the animals to parties, events, schools, or homes.
Heritage Park and its volunteers are dedicated to the conservation and protection of wildlife, caring for more than 150 indigenous and exotic mammals, reptiles, and birds in a 10-acre haven. Many of Heritage Park's animals were previously injured, abandoned, or marked with a human imprint that prevents them from rejoining their packs without bringing personalized coffee mugs for everyone. While prowling through the sanctuary, visitors might spy a mountain lion that was kept as a pet, a black bear that was orphaned by his mother, or a fox rescued from a swimming pool. Emus, tarantulas, and ring-tailed lemurs also run free in their habitats, serenading onlookers with their wild cries.
Heritage Park also plays an important role in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, granting asylum to critically endangered Mexican gray wolves, which are being reintroduced into the wild after a 20-year absence. The zoological sanctuary is open every day, with extended hours from May 1 to October 31 to give guests a chance to see animals that are usually out running errands during business hours.
In 1955, 50 horses and their handlers gathered on the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel for the first Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. Over the next 58 years, the event moved twice—first to Paradise Park, then to WestWorld—and grew to nearly 2,500 participants. Today, the 450 members of the Arabian Horse Association, which was incorporated the same year as the horse show, help to oversee the annual flagship event. Many of the members also serve as competition judges, work to foster youth participation in the equestrian arts, and raise awareness about which tiny hats look best on thoroughbreds.
The annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show draws competitors from local Arizona farms and across the country. The showcase gathers thousands of horse enthusiasts for seminars, competitions, galas, international cuisine, and more than 300 vendors. Though the Arabian Horse Association holds the show as its main event, it also oversees the Arabian Breeder Finals, a halter and breeding showcase; the annual qualifying America Cup Championship; and yearly endurance rides and stallion auctions.
Staffed 24 hours a day, Always Unleashed Pet Resort sprawls across 3,200 square feet of air-conditioned indoor area and 9,000 square feet of outdoor area. Here, pups will find plenty of dog furniture, couches, and doggy beds, as well as a water park complete with a 55-foot commercial grade lagoon equipped with waterfalls, a large splash pad with geysers, and cleaning equipment to ensure fresh water. The pet facility welcomes dogs for day and overnight boarding, where pets are never kept in rooms, cages or suites. It also hosts a safari room for feline boarding.